What are wisdom teeth?
Wisdom teeth are the last and final molars (third molars) to erupt. They generally erupt in late teens or early twenties. Sometimes they are well aligned to adjacent teeth and don’t generate any oral problem, but most of the time, there isn’t always enough room in the mouth for them to erupt correctly.
Because of the lack of space, wisdom teeth can sometimes emerge at specific angulation or get stuck in the bone, causing them to just partially emerge, and in this case they require removal.
Nine out of ten people have at least one impacted wisdom tooth.
Why Are Wisdom Teeth Removed?
Sometimes wisdom teeth that are impacted in the jaw bone or haven’t fully erupted in the oral cavity can cause dental problems. Commonly, food and bacteria get trapped around the gum of wisdom teeth because this area is complicated to clean. If impacted wisdom teeth are not treated, they may cause:
- Bacterial infection
- Pericoronitis: Infection caused by plaque on the tissue surrounding the tooth.
- Cellulitis: Infection that has spread to the cheeks, throat, or tongue.
- Abscess: Pus formation in the surrounding areas of the wisdom teeth (gum, bone, or teeth) due to a bacterial infection.
- Tooth decay
- Gum disease
- Cyst or tumor formation: Sometimes, wisdom teeth that do not erupt in the oral cavity develop a cyst or benign tumor. If this grows, it may lead to more severe problems; damage in the jaw bone, nerve, or teeth.
- It can affect adjacent molar: by reabsorbing its root, causing extraction of this one.
How Will I Be Able To Know If I Need My Wisdom Teeth Removed?
You need to make an appointment with your dentist if you are having discomfort or pain in the molar area.
The dental professional will check your general and dental background and take x-rays. He will do a clinical checkup and advice if you need a wisdom teeth removal surgery. Tell your dentist if you have or had any of the following conditions:
- Allergies to any medication
- Congenital heart defect
- Liver disease
- Osteoporosis and if you are taking Bisphosphonates
- Impaired immune system
- History of bacterial endocarditis
Advantages of Wisdom Teeth Removal
- If not removed, wisdom teeth can cause serious health problems like gum infection, tooth decay, crowding, and cyst formation over time.
- By performing a wisdom tooth removal surgery, the patient recovers oral health by not suffering the pain caused by wisdom teeth eruption, adjacent teeth mobility, and the risk of suffering infections or movement of the rest of the teeth is also eliminated.
Procedure of Wisdom Teeth Removal
Phase 1: Diagnosis and treatment plan
The dental professional will check the general and dental background to ensure the patient is an ideal candidate for this procedure.
Before the procedure, your dentist will explain every detail about the surgery and will also give you an informed consent, in which he describes the process and its possible complications. Depending on your case in particular, he may give you antibiotics before or after surgery.
Your dentist may remove your wisdom tooth if it has fully erupted because the procedure is very simple or, he may refer you to an oral and maxillofacial surgeon for hospital treatment depending on the difficulty level.
Phase 2: Wisdom teeth removal procedure
Some patients get nervous about the procedure, so an option is to use sedatives for the extraction. Sedation in dentistry includes oral sedatives, intravenous sedatives (It is administered to your veins by injection), or nitrous dioxide.
At the moment of extraction, your dentist will place local anesthetics to anesthetize the area surrounding the tooth. It is normal to feel some pressure at the time your dentist is removing the tooth or after.
Sometimes, it is necessary to make an incision in the gum, and the tooth may need to be cut into smaller pieces to simplify the process. The procedure takes about 20 minutes or more, depending on the severity of the case.
After the extraction, your dentist will send you hometo rest. Recovery usually takes between 3-4 days, depending on the severity of the surgery. There are some methods you can take at home that can help minimize discomfort, swelling, risk of infection, and speed recovery:
- Your dentist may prescribe painkillers, and it is necessary to follow his/her recommendations.
- Apply ice to the affected area after the procedure to minimize swelling and hot compresses 72 hours after the surgery.
- Have a liquid diet for the first 24 hours and gradually add a solid diet as the extraction site heals.
- Do not use straws for the first 24 hours.
- Limit activity for the next day or two.
- Avoid smoking
- Brush your teeth and tongue normally, also floss, avoiding the extraction site. Your dentist may prescribe a special mouthwash.
Do’s and Don’ts of Wisdom Teeth Removal
- Maintain excellent oral hygiene before and after treatment
- Drink lots of water and cold drinks after surgery.
- Maintain a soft diet for the first 48 hours.
- Use cold compresses in the surgery area as recommended by your dentist.
- Don’t drink alcohol, coffee, hot drinks, or carbonated beverages like soda for at least 24 hours after the procedure.
- Don’t eat or chew hard, crunchy or chewy foods.
- Don’t exercise for at least seven days after the procedure.
- Don’t brush near the surgery area for the first 24 hours.
- Don’t smoke tobacco for at least three days after surgery.
Myths About Wisdom Teeth Removal Treatment
Myth #1: You should remove wisdom teeth in all cases.
Truth: This is not true, wisdom teeth removal is necessary when there is not enough space for them to emerge in the dental arches, if they erupt in the wrong position or push other teeth and put in risk their position. This problem happens to a small part of the population, so it is unnecessary to think that when the teeth erupt, they will have to be removed.
Myth #2: Everyone has wisdom teeth.
Truth: There are cases in which the third molar (wisdom tooth) doesn’t form, or only one of them does. There may even be cases in which the four third molars do not exist or erupt, so not everyone has to go through this phase.
Myth #3: Wisdom teeth will push other teeth out of their way.
Truth: A tooth cannot move the entire denture, but it may be that wisdom teeth push the second molar, and this triggers the movement of the adjacent teeth.
Myth #4: Wisdom teeth receive this name because they make you lose it
Truth: The myth says that they receive this name since the pain caused when they erupt makes people go crazy. They receive the name due to the age at which they erupt or form. From the age of 16, there is already enough maturity to assume that someone has judgment.
Myth #5: Removing wisdom teeth is a complicated procedure.
Truth: This is not true. Removing a wisdom tooth is not dangerous, or complicated. If the wisdom teeth grow crooked, presses on the nerve as it passes or is under the gum tissue, the extraction process will be more complicated, but nothing that a dentist cannot handle.
Frequently Asked Questions
When is it necessary to remove the wisdom teeth?
For those who do not have a problem with wisdom teeth do not need to remove them. However, if there is not enough room for them to erupt in the back of the mouth, they develop into what is known as impacted or retained wisdom teeth and cause pain, swelling, or infection. In these cases, it is better to remove them, because they can push the adjacent teeth. In addition to that, you will avoid pain and discomfort throughout the eruption process.
Does the face swell after wisdom teeth removal?
Inflammation is normally expected; this is proportional to the wisdom teeth removal surgery- swelling around the mouth, cheeks, eyes, and sides of the face is not uncommon. It is due to the body’s normal reaction to surgery and repair on damaged tissues. The swelling will not be evident until the first day has passed and will reach its full form on the second or third post-operative day. Even so, swelling diminishes with the immediate use of local cold compresses in the area where the surgery has taken place.
Local cold compresses should be applied intermittently to avoid any burn in the skin. After 36 hours, the ice will not have any beneficial effect. We should not be alarmed if the inflammation lasts a few days as it is a normal reaction to surgery. Thirty-six hours after the surgery, you can apply moist heat to reduce swelling.
Will I be able to eat and drink after surgery?
After surgery, if general anesthesia or intravenous sedation was applied, fluids should be drunk, avoiding using a drinking straw as the suction movement could cause the blood clot previously formed in the surgical area to fall and cause bleeding. You can eat any soft food by chewing on the opposite side of the surgical site. It is essential to eat foods with a lot of calories and protein. It is important to eat regularly and avoid dehydration, so it is advisable to drink fluids frequently. Even so, during the first days, the diet will be limited, and we can compensate this by increasing the amount of liquid we drink. At a minimum, the patient should drink about 5 or 6 glasses of liquid daily. It is advisable not to skin any meal to feel better.
What is the best age to remove my wisdom teeth?
Wisdom teeth removal can be successfully performed in patients of any age, there is no standard rule that indicates an exact age for surgery.
Age-related factors tend to associate older patients with a higher risk of complications in the intervention. Dentists generally recommend its extraction between the ages of 18 and 24. The dentist will typically wait for two-thirds of the roots to form for extraction. If the tooth is less developed, it may be more difficult to handle during the surgical procedure.
Usually, when two-thirds of the roots form, the patient is already 18 years old.
When the patient is older, complications may arise because dental roots are fully developed, making the surgery more difficult, and affecting the ease with which the patient will recover during the post-operative period.
In any case, before deciding when it is time to remove wisdom teeth, it must be determined if the removal is necessary. Sometimes, impacted teeth can normally erupt if given enough time.
Should wisdom teeth be removed, or can they be kept?
Wisdom teeth removal is necessary to solve a current problem or prevent future issues that the dentist can intuit is going to happen. There are different complications that wisdom teeth can give.
In cases where the jawbone is not large enough to accommodate the third molars, they are not able to erupt due to lack of space, being unable to emerge through the gum.
The lack of space in the bone can also cause the wisdom teeth to erupt in the wrong direction and can go forward, affecting the adjacent teeth, backward, or to either side.
In other cases, the molar partially erupts through the gum and causes the gum to grow over the tooth. This space created between the soft tissue flap and the tooth is very prone to harboring food and bacteria, causing inflammation of the gum that can be very painful. This process is called Pericoronitis.
Impacted wisdom teeth can cause other more severe problems, such as infections, damage to other teeth, and the formation of cysts or benign tumors.
If the dentist recognizes any of these problems or believes that they may occur in the future due to the current oral condition, then its removal will be indicated.
Wisdom teeth that stay in the oral cavity should be monitored because the potential to develop future problems still exists, so the regular visit to the dentist allows the professional to evaluate the condition of the teeth and the patient’s overall health.